Journeysmatter

A blog on journeys, great destinations and fantastic travel experiences

Tag Archives: KailashMansarovar

#India is in a #Lockdown to fight #Covid19 #Coronavirus – Day 55- 61

0

Two months have gone past us as the country battles the coronavirus; During moments of despair and frustration, people have even called it the #Chinavirus , #Chinesevirus. Even though the world does not conclusive evidence regarding its origins, the fact that the pandemic had its origins in wuhan was enough to get people to attribute the virus and its origins to China. The world will hopefully hear more about its origins, spread, mistakes along the way and finally lessons to be taken home.

The central government in India has displayed the right intent by announcing commencement of domestic flight services on the 25th of May 2020. In one go, this will bring out many sectors from their morass; Airlines, ground services, catering, hotels, cab services will begin the journey towards normalcy. However, this proactive push by the central government should be backed by various states showing the willingness and creativity in handling the travellers coming in to their states. A great awakening among people is required to ensure compliance to rules and therefore breaking the chain of transmission. The Hon’ble Prime Minister spoke about saving lives and livelihoods. The lives are being taken care of and return to livelihoods is being ensured, however slow.

Turtle moving slowly towards the sea but not stopping
India should continue moving and not stop

Another positive step is the introduction of over 200 trains to commence their services from the 1st of June 2020. Apart from online bookings, the railways have started operating reservaton counters and empowered agents to accept bookings. The overwhelming response indicates the willingess of people to move (implicitly accepting the conditions) plus ultimately paves the way for return of labour who have moved back to their hometowns. With these twin boosts i.e kickstarting domestic air travel and increasing rail services, the central government has shown positive intent in getting the country back on track. The onus is now on states to clearly align and show the resolve in getting their local economies back on track. Leadership in each of these states will be keenly watched and judged based on what and how they prioritize.

While the states battled COVID-19, West Bengal and Odisha on the east coast were struck by a ferocious #cycloneamphan(Twitter feed). West Bengal was more in the news due to extensive damages to villages, towns and the city of Kolkata. Burst transformers, ruptured water connections, roofings lifted off by heavy winds and strewn on streets, fallen trees, electricity cables etc., have littered the landscape of Kolkata. The Prime Minister was prompt in travelling to both the states and standing shoulder to shoulder in this time of crisis. The vibes between the leaders were extremely positive in the state of Odisha. As committed, the Government of India was prompt in asking the RBI to credit the respective state governments with the promised relief money.

Prof Shamika Ravi continues her masterful briefing tweets on the COVID-19 situation in the country and world over. Appreciate her commitment to bring this information to the public along with her colleague Mudit Kapoor.

The best place to get your daily updates on India and the world’s position in the fight

When the whole world was busy fighting its battles with coronavirus, one man made news with global PE and technology companies bringing in big money to invest in his telecom + data company – Reliance JIO. Starting with Facebook, the list of investors now include Vista equity partners, Silverlake, General Atlantic and the more recent one, KKR. The investments continue to prove the potent power of the telecom sector and how it has enabled life changing moments in India with superior reach. It is only because of telecom that many sectors are able to reach the customer with ease. While many may argue that there is no product being backed, the money is clearly backing the venture based on the vast demographics that it supports.

Nepal’s concerns on India laying a road right up to the Lipulekh pass on the trekking route to Kailash Mansarovar has stirred the pot. The new map released by Nepal shows Lipulekh, the crossover point in to Tibet and Kalapani as parts of its territory. Having done the yatra in 2015, the guides point out the territory and have been witness to free movement of people between territories on either side. Kalapani has a quaint temple dedicated to goddess Kali and is said to straddle both the countries. Security of the area is guaranteed by the Indo Tibetan border police.

Workplace continues to adapt to the rigours of working from home. Executives have probably spent the longest time confined their homes than at airports. The Aarogya setu app is a good tool that, if used in the right way, can inform the user about the number of cases in their vicinity, risks thereof and the prevention to be taken. People have been putting up their achievements on the company portal – a senior leader is said to have run 100 kms on his terrace and raised a lakh of rupees towards charity. Eating right, exercising regularly, sleeping well – all of this will hopefully continue even after the lockdown ends and people get back to their normal lives. School for the Miss ends on the 25th and they go on a break for two weeks. Mrs. finally sported a smile when she heard about resumption of domestic flights.

Food this week was simple home cooked fare starting with a bunch of Gujarati dishes on Sunday

Dahiwala moong sabzi, Dudhi (bottlegourd) with chana subzi, Pakodi kadi and Gujarati dal with Rotis
Dahiwala moong sabzi, Dudhi (bottlegourd) with chana subzi, Pakodi kadi and Gujarati dal with Rotis. THe meal for three costs about 730 Rs (10 USD) including delivery charges

Rice attack continued through the week and that is the best option available to cook once and get done with.

Dal rice and ghee with Cauliflower and potato subzi
MONDAY – Dal rice and ghee with Cauliflower and potato subzi
Lemon rasam with brinjal (eggplant) curry and some mixture
TUESDAY – Lemon rasam with brinjal (eggplant) curry and some mixture
Paruppu sadam with vathakuzhambhu and vadam
WEDNESDAY – Paruppu sadam with vathakuzhambhu and vadam
Paruppu (pulses) thogayal rice with keerai (spinach) masiyal
FRIDAY – Paruppu (pulses) thogayal rice with keerai (spinach) masiyal
Vegetable pulav with boondi raita and potato chips
Vegetable pulav with boondi raita and potato chips

On a couple of days, we had the privilege of some great evening tiffin as well.

We head in to the last week of lockdown 4.0 and headed in to it with a lot of positivity. Just waiting for reciprocation from governments across the country so that India can get back in to business in style!

Jai Shriram!

#India is in a #Lockdown to fight #Covid19 #Coronavirus – Day 41 – 47

0

The first week of our third lockdown seems to be going pretty ok. It is almost like we have got used to living like this. The only wish is to ensure that our recovery rates continue to improve, new infections continue to reduce, people continue to be socially aware & take required precautions and of course, a therapy emerges at the earliest.

The only source to turn to is Prof Shamika Ravi’s data driven report on the state of infections in India. Everything else is noise.

A data intensive approach to how states are performing in the battle against COVID19

As Prof Ravi says, apart from testing, contact tracing becomes extremely important so as to limit spread. Such a keen listener, she stops the moment an anchor on television interrupts her analysis.

States like Telengana have extended the current lockdown to the 29th of May while some like Karnataka have asked essential and non-essential establishments to open while keeping strict social distancing norms. A few states have seen easing of restrictions blow up on their face like in Chennai where the main fruit and vegetable market in Koyambedu turned in to a hotspot. Many like West Bengal have made news for the wrong reasons – no clear picture on fatalities arising out of COVID-19 and others like Maharashtra and Gujarat have started spiralling out of control.

Many positives during the week. Air India began Vande Bharat mission, touted as the world’s largest evacuation operation. Its objective was to get stranded Indians back home. Many Indians across the Gulf, Unites States, London, Far East, South East Asia have been stranded due to loss of jobs, expiry of visas, inability to get back home before the lockdown or the simple need to be back with loved ones. In addition to bringing back stranded Indians, many Indians desirous of going out of India have also been given hope. A detailed order to this effect has been put up on the Air India Website. I hope each and everyone of them is grateful to the country for having been given this opportunity.

Image describing the objective of Vande Bharat mission
The Vande Bharat Mission to bring back stranded Indians

It was also heartening to read about Indian railways and its fantastic efforts.

  1. Trains have been operated from various parts of the country to help migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded at different places. Over 300 trains have been run so far and many more being run
  2. The efforts to connect North East of India by rail has proven immensly beneficial. The Northeast frontier railway has managed to run a record 622 services to various districts across the North East states supplying essentials. Time and again it has been proven that with good infrastructure, progress is guaranteed.
  3. The western railway has used the lockdown to carry out extensive maintenance services of its infrastructure and prepare them for the monsoon ahead.
  4. While the above seem regular, some extaordinary achievements too go unnoticed. The railways managed to get 20 litres of camel milk across to a child in Mumbai who was in need. This did put a smile on many faces
  5. About 5,200 coaches have been converted to COVID-19 isolation wards. This represents another effort to overcome shortage of hospital beds and one that uses ingenious thinking.
A railway coach converted in to a COVID19 isolation ward
A Railway coach converted in to a COVID 19 isolation ward

The only jarring note was the needless controversy and politics alleging that fares were being extracted out of migrant labour moving between states. The central government did clarify that it was bearing 85% of the fare while the host state government was bearing the remaining 15%.

Nothing has deterred India in its quest towards ensuring soverignty of its borders, its citizens living close to the borders are taken care of an movement made more comfortable. It is in this light that one must take note of the commedable job done by the Border Roads Organization – they have built a motorable road just 5 km short of the lipulekh pass that separates India from Tibet (PRC). This erstwhile walking path has been used by piligrims walking to Kailash Mansarovar, residents of border villages, delivery of essential supplies and traders. From use of manual labour and ponies to now using transport vehicles up to atleast 17,000 feet, it has truly made life easier for its people. An online inauguration by the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri brought a lot of joy to people who will be direct beneficiaries of this key infrastructure

Hon’ble Raksha Mantri inaugurating the link road to Kailash Mansarovar

While this reduces the yatra timeframe via Uttarakhand significantly, the walking route gave yatris a lot of time to chant the lord’s name, be with nature and essentially dissolve with the divine. The time spent with sah yatris, opportunity to do seva will truly be missed. At the same time one cannot ignore the massive road and telecom infrastructure built by China on the Tibetan side.

Map of the road link right up to the lipulekh pass.
Estension of the road from Dharchula right up to the lipulekh pass which is a crossover point in to Tibet

While India moved ahead with major infrastructure projects while battling COVID-19, it did not lose sight of the opportunities coming out of this crisis. Many states have used this opportunity to reform their labour laws and have thrown open their gates to investors looking to set up shop. While many say that this targets potential investors who are looking to exit China, many domestic investors too might find the opportunity ripe to invest in states which now have tremendous manpower in the form of returning workforce.

Back home at the workplace, progress with work is steady. Google’s decision to offer employees a day’s break on the 22nd of May to combat weariness arising out of work from home is being spoken about in tech circles. However, services companies who cannot miss a day’s billing, can only dream of such decisions.

The Miss. now has school on alternate days thereby getting some respite from the gruelling 4 hour online schedule. The schedule is mostly to do with keeping attention span than the act of sitting continuously for long durations.

Food as medicine has been imbibed in our civilization for centuries. This lockdown has given everyone a golden opportunity to revive those tenets. At home, two meals a day was the norm except for the weekend when a late lunch required an elaborate breakfast. Rice with a gravy and a subzi continued to be the staple eat of the week. Here is a collection

All the ricelings

Other Rice delicacies from the week

On the day of Sambhar i.e Thursday, Miss. requested Mrs. for some idlies and this simple wish was granted.

Rava idly with egg plant / kathirikai sambhar
Rava idly with egg plant / kathirikai sambhar

On Thursday, just before my eyes shut, Mrs. asked if Sabudana (Sago) was available at home along with peanuts. She immediately rushed to soak them overnight and the next day for breakfast, we were served this:

Sabudana khichdi on Friday morning
Sabudana khichdi on Friday morning

Eggs were in the refrigerator for many days now. Having brought some fresh bread on saturday morning, yielded this:

A great 2 egg omlette with three slices of brown bread for a great breakfast on saturday
A great 2 egg omlette with three slices of brown bread for a great breakfast on saturday

The only two days when lunch was ‘make do with what is around’ was on Friday and saturday. THis was more driven by zero stocks of vegetables than anything else.

We were getting better at designing our life around the lockdown. A lot of understanding of responsibilities and focus on responding definitely helps in maintaining calm at home and the virtual workplace.

A calibrated easing of the lockdown enabled by higher levels of citizen responsibilities will define the way ahead for our country.

Bharat Mata ki jai!

A photo blog and Supporting information guide for Yatris preparing to travel to #KailashMansarovar organized by Ministry of External Affairs, India

4
The Himalayas

From June 11th of 2017 till September 2017, 1430 lucky yatris will be able to accomplish a cherished goal – One of successfully completing the Holy Kailash and Mansarovar Yatra. The Yatra, excellently organized by our Ministry of External Affairs with support from Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam, ITBP, Sashastra Seema Bal and the Chinese authorities is a massive exercise in logistics, co-ordination and participation. The Yatris can do their bit by preparing well, staying fit and extending their co-operation to the organizers and fellow yatris. I have been part of Batch 5 of the Yatra during 2015. This photo blog captures my preparatory experience with supporting visuals wherever possible. I see this as my way of paying back to the Holy feet of the lord himself. Om Namah Shivayah!

BAGS – The bags are carried throughout the yatra with the help of mules. It is better to stick to a maximum of 10 – 12 kgs. Select a light weight duffel bag which is water resistant and a good duffel bag. Check out the choices available here for duffel bags and day packs. At the Gujarat sadan, the organizers provide you with a plastic/fertilizer bag to seal the bag. Add your identifier like a satin tape with name and batch number. This is useful when luggage is picked up and handed over at the lipulekh pass. Keep one empty small bag which can be left at Gunji with clothes you may not need. REMEMBER – As you climb altitude, shed your bag weight and get lighter.

Bags and packing for Kailash

Starting Top Left Clockwise 1- A Tarpaulin material water resistant duffel bag which gets transported throughout the Yatra. Use Plastic covers to line the insides and pack your stuff. Should be around 10 to 12 Kg maximum. A Day pack – for carrying on self or with the porter containing a change of clothes, medicines and thermals. A smaller bag which can store used items that can be either left at Dharchula or Gunji and collected upon return 2. Day pack by Quechua – Forclaz 30 Air 3. Tatonka – Medium size Duffel Bag 4. Waist pouch with Passport and Cash – always on self 5. Packing at the Gujarat sadan Using fertilizer grade water resistant bags, ropes and identifiers like satin tapes and yatri name and registration number on the bags.

MEDICAL KIT – The following 9 items are more than sufficient for your entire Yatra. This is apart from any other medication that your physician has advised. Listen to the advise of doctors at Batra Hospital in Delhi, ITBP hospitals in Delhi and Gunji. If you have to take a Pony + Porter both on the Indian side and Chinese side, take them. You will need them when your legs tire. It also helps to stabilize your breathing and settle your blood pressure. If you feel the need for an oxygen can, you can find one at Taklakot in their markets. For Altitude sickness – TR Coca 200 Drachms / Coca 6x can be purchased from any homeo clinic in your home town or in Delhi. Follow the schedule as advised and it should keep you in good shape till you start the descent back.

Essentials in the bag

From Top Left – Band Aid Strips, Paracetamol Tablet, Anti Allergic Tablet, Vaseline lip balm to avoid chaffed lips – to be kept in pant pocket, SPF 30+ cream on face, hands and exposed parts – to be used from day 2 regularly till return, Vaseline petroleum jelly – rub in nostrils before sleeping for easy breathing, Neosporin powder for any wounds before bandaging, Candid anti fungal and bacterial powder – dust in to socks before slipping on shoes. Muscle relaxing cream for any sprains

HYDRATION – Important to stay hydrated throughout the trip. Often long walks can leave you short of salts. Keep sipping water every 30 minutes and consume ORS/Electral if you feel drained of energy. Ask your porter/pony handler to fill up water from the streams on the indian side and experience the goodness of nature. Nothing can beat the taste of a natural spring.

Water bottle, ORS and Electral

A water bottle of maximum of one liter that can fit in to the sides of your day pack, a packet of ORS or Electral to support your water requirements and salt replenishment. If water is exhausted, ask your pony handler or porter to fill it from the nearest stream. It is absolutely safe. Please consume water every 30 to 45 minutes and an average of 3.5 to 4 liters per day. Don’t stop drinking water even if you don’t feel thirsty.

OTHER SNACKS – Make small sized packets of dry fruits and sugar candies. They are excellent for snacking during long walks in the sun. Keep some in your day pack and some in your trouser pockets.

Dry fruits and sugary sweets

Make small packets of dry fruits – Walnuts, Almonds, Dried Grapes, Dried Figs and sugar sweets to keep you fit when you walk long distances – on an average of 15 – 20 kms per day. Keep them in your day pack or in the pockets of your trousers

CLOTHING DURING INDIAN SIDE TREKS  – On the Indian side treks begin at 5 – 530 AM and yatris reach their guest houses post lunch around 2 / 3 PM. It is usually sunny and one sweats extensively during such treks. Stick to simple cotton t-shirts (around 6 should be enough) and a water resistant trouser; Two such trousers are sufficient for the entire trip. Rain coats are fine but keep it only for the upper part. Advisable to keep two pairs of strong shoes. One for a lower altitude and one for higher altitudes.

Clothing for the Yatra on the indian stretch

When walking on the indian side from Dharchula to Gunji via Sirkha, Gala and Budhi it will be quite sunny. Use a cotton T-Shirt, wear a water resistant trouser (no jeans) and wear shoes which give you enough grip. Use cotton socks in this stretch. If it rains, carry a rain coat (2 pieces). You can leave them in Gunji in a spare bag if you feel you don’t need it. The trouser, usually has multiple pockets to store instant snacks, ORS and medicines if required

CLOTHING DURING HIGHER ALTITUDE TREKS  – Starting from Gunji after an extra night of acclimatization, treks are always on a higher altitude. During this period it is wise to switch to full hand t-shirts with trousers, liberal application of sunscreen, sun goggles and full UV protection caps. One may also use Quick drying T-shirts during this stretch. They can be purchased from here

Full T shirt and Trouser

When walking at higher altitudes starting from Gunji up to chinese side and return, use a full length, quick dry t-shirt and a water resistant trouser. The full hand t-shirt will keep you safe from UV rays. For high altitudes and snow, use a stronger shoe which is water resistant as you may have to cross streams, walk in ankle/knee deep snow.

CLOTHING DURING THE PARIKRAMA – Clothing during the parikrama needs care and attention to avoid exposure to the wind. Starting from the crossing at Lipulekh to Dolma, exposure to winds is going to be high. During these times, it is important to have three layers of clothing as given below – T-shirt, Fleece Jacket and a wind + water proof jacket. Apart from these, important to have the right protection to cover your face to avoid chafed lips. Useful to have anti-frostbite socks if possible else woolen socks too will suffice.

Yatra Clothing

Starting from Navidhang where yatris depart at 3 AM, right up to completion of the Yatra, it is advisable to wear 3 layers. Inner layer is a T-Shirt, On top of the T-Shirt, you can consider wearing a warm fleece jacket and finally a Wind, snow and water proof jacket. The final jacket should completely cover your neck and should have a hoodie provision. Trousers can be the same water resistant one. Use either a woolen socks or a

FOOTWEAR – Important to carry two pieces of robust footwear. Break in to them atleast a month before the Yatra and feel comfortable walking in them. Go for shoes with Ankle support. You can review the models for lower altitudes and higher altitudes. Gaiters are extremely useful to avoid any leeches or insects getting in to your legs, stones and even snow. Hiking poles are an absolute must especially while crossing streams and checking for depth of snow. Buy one which can be adjusted for height.

Footwear and walking

On the left is a low altitude trekking boots usually used up to 10,000 – 12,000 feet. On top of the green shoes are Gaitors which are used when walking on slush or Snow to avoid leeches and snow seeping in to shoes. On the right are shoes with heavier tread and increased water resistance useful when walking in higher altitudes. Use the extensible hiking poles (green and red) while walking. Use only one pole during hiking.

HEAD GEAR – Extremely important considering the UV exposure, sun rays, winds and reflection of sunlight from the snow. Avoid any temporary blindness that could come out of reflected light by having a wrap around goggles always accessible.

Head and Hand gear during walking

Cap with UV protection, Wollen beanies to wear, Microfibre to protect against harsh winds especially at higher altitudes in Lipulekh pass and Dolma La. Complete eye protection from UV rays and sunlight reflecting from snow. One has to make sure that the eye wear can be worn with a neck band and hung on the neck. Leather gloves during high altitude and windy terrain are more effective in keeping one warm

GUEST HOUSE / YATRI NIVAS WEAR – During overnight stops at Yatri Nivas’, it is important to be appropriately clothed and also stay protected as the overnight temperatures dip to single digits on the Indian side and sub-zero on the chinese side.

Guest house resting wear

On the left – Simple wear when in the guest house. A cotton track pants, Cotton t-shirt and a shell jacket and/or Wind protection jacket. On the right – Quick dry underwear. Having 4 or 5 of them can help you through the Yatra without any pressure of having to wash them and waiting for them to dry.

THERMALS – Thermals have a very important function at high altitudes and at low temperatures. It is important to understand the function of Thermals and use them appropriately. Recommended to go for one pair of Cotton thermals and one pair of synthetic thermals. Use is described in the image below.

About Thermals

Thermals – When to wear them and How to use them. On the left are Cotton thermals and on the right are polyester mixed thermals. On the indian side and up to 10,000 – 12,000 feet, cotton thermals can be worn during night before going to bed. Wear only thermals when going to bed as it can keep you very warm. No other layer on top of it. During Yatra and at higher altitudes wear the other thermals. If during the yatra you feel the need for a thermal pant during walking, wear one and then put on a water resistant trouser on top. Simple rule – At night, only thermals will suffice. During walking, it is optional.

This Yatra is led by extremely competent liaison officers who are well oriented, well equipped and one who has a direct line with the ministry regarding the status and well being of the yatris. Our only job is to listen to the instructions regarding safety & comfort given by the officers along with ITBP & SSB officers and KMVN guides. This guide follows the official document provided by the Ministry; Any other items required over and above the official list is as per the discretion of the yatri.

Wishing you all a successful Kailash Mansarovar Yatra 2017